Tuesday 24 October 2017

It is really 'unseasonal' weather when it is wet and cold in Ireland?

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

Here's a question for you: what's the weather like in Ireland and Scotland? It's not a trick question. If you answered "wet", "cold", or "wet and cold", a lot of people would agree with you. Ask the management at C&C and it feels like they would answer with some variation of "hot and sunny".

Yesterday the company, which counts Bulmers Original Cider among its brands, warned it had experienced difficult trading conditions due to "unseasonably cold and wet weather, particularly in May" in its core markets of Ireland and Scotland.

Other drinks firms have mentioned the cold weather recently - and it's true that some us were still wearing hats and scarves in May, and Bulmers is a summer drink.

But here's the problem: this is Ireland and Scotland, not California. There aren't too many people on these islands who would describe wind and rain as "unseasonal". This is nothing new for C&C at least. Let's have a look at past trading statements.

On July 3, 2013, C&C said "volumes were generally weaker in March and April driven by unseasonably cold weather" before picking up.

On June 27, 2012, the firm said "poor weather in the UK and Ireland resulted in weak cider numbers for the first quarter".

On 29 June 2011, C&C said trading has been "relatively weak in comparison to the prior year with poor weather in Ireland and the UK".

It's deja vu all over again, it would seem. The first quarter is the weakest time of C&C's year. It has plenty of time to make up the ground over the next nine months, but it is a bit disingenuous to blame the weather every year and expect investors to just shrug their shoulders.

C&C has well documented problems in the US, and industrial relations issues in its Clonmel plant, so Stephen Glancey and his team have plenty on their plate. Yesterday's statement prompted Davy Stockbrokers to cut its forecast earnings beore interest and tax to €111m from €115m.

For C&C's sake, let's hope it doesn't turn a bit chilly in July and August.

Irish Independent

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